By Ogar Monday
A former youth leader of the People’s Democratic Party in Ward 3, Calabar South local government area of Cross River State, Mr. Augustine Sunday Bassey, popularly referred to as ‘Kufre’ who was arrested on July 10, 2017, for raping an 11 year old girl around the Lagos Street axis of Calabar South Local Government Area has been recently released from police detention under very suspicious circumstances.
Mr. Bassey who was detained at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Calabar, was alleged to have raped the child in his shop under the pretense of running an errand for him.
While sharing the horrible experience with our correspondent at the office of Basic Rights Counsel Initiative (BRCI) a Calabar-based child protection NGO, the victim (name withheld) recounted how the suspect, who is their neighbor had sent her to buy fermented cassava (popularly known as Fufu).
“When I got back and gave him the Fufu, he insisted I drop it inside the shop. When I dropped it and wanted to come out, he pushed me inside the shop covered my mouth and threatened to beat me if I don’t keep quiet.” Augustine then went on to forcefully remove her pants and raped her.
For fear of what her mother might do to her, the victim confided in her cousin who then disclosed the matter to her mother who went ahead to report the matter to the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
BRCI immediately stepped into the matter and asked the police to charge the matter to court soon after facilitating medical treatment for the child and obtaining medical report.
However, information filtering in has it that the family of the victim has been under pressure to drop the case with the promise of receiving compensation from the family of the suspect.
The Program Manager of Basic Rights Counsel Initiative, Theresa Okpa who spoke with our correspondent said that the father of the victim, Peter Udo had visited their office in the company of the victim’s mother and another relative, appealing to them to drop the matter as they were no longer interested in charging it to court, but will rather settle amicably with the suspect and his family who had offered NGN300,000 in return for dropping the charge.
All efforts to counsel the victim’s parents on the need to press for justice for their child and other alleged victims proved to be abortive as the family insisted on settling out of court and receiving the said amount.
“If this is allowed to fly, then we have a disaster on our hands, as perpetrators of rape against our children will continue to walk free, and that means our children are not safe”, BRCI’s Program Manager decried.
She further called on the Commissioner for Police and other relevant stakeholders in the State to do all within their power to ensure that the suspect is made to face the full weight of the law.
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